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Chaosium's Prince Valiant

Chaosium's Prince Valiant

Epic storytelling adventures in the time of King Arthur and the knights of the round table.

Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant “comics” were adapted to an RPG by Greg Stafford in 1989. Prince Valiant wasn’t Greg’s first Arthurian RPG, as he penned the Pendragon RPG, also published by Chaosium in 1985. Prince Valiant was an interesting departure from the standard systems for Chaosium and for Greg, using a “die pool” mechanic similar to the later World of Darkness games, but using coins instead of dice.

The game is also interesting in that while a fairly traditional RPG at heart, the advanced rules allowed and encouraged players to suggest side-quests and mini-scenarios, and gave rules for them to actually take over as the Game Master for those sequences, as a reward they earn a Storyteller Certificate that they can cash in later during play to trigger a “special effect”.

As I’m making a sample character for Military July, instead of making a standard knight for the game, I’ll make a man-at-arms.

My vision for Jean Giraud is a Gallish man-at-arms who has come to England while escaping from raiders. He’s a short man with stiff short black hair that always seems spiked with sweat when not under his mail coif.

Once named and an occupation chosen (Man at Arms in this case), we assign his starting fame. For most characters this is 500, or 800 for knights. Fame is the game’s experience system – every thousands points of fame allow a character to select an additional skill level. His description is next, followed by his stats.

Characters in Prince Valiant are defined by two ability scores. Average people have 6 points to spend between them, heroes have 7, and the uber characters of the setting have 8. The stats are Brawn (used for all things physical) and Presence (used for all things mental and social). Stats are rated from 1 to 6. As a soldier, I’m going for 5 Brawn and 2 Presence – He’s not a huge man, but he’s well muscled, strong, agile and incredibly tough (as exhibited by a massive scar runnign down his neck and chest).

Next is skills. Skill levels are added to the Brawn or Presence stat when making “throws” that use the skill in question. A starting character has 9 skill points, and must have at least six skills, including Arms and Riding (for a man at arms). Since Jean is an infantryman foremost, I only give him a single level of Riding and three levels of Arms. Two levels of archery gives him more of an advantage in combat and a bit of versatility since he won’t be fighting with the advantage of horseback too often. A level of Battle helps him in mass combat, a level of Dexterity shows that his brawn is about grace and precision, not just brawn. Finally a level of Stealth to really help him stand out from the standard knightly skillset.

As a man at arms he starts with light armor (+1 combat), an axe or sword (I’ll go with the axe) (+1 combat), a riding horse (he calls her “Marie-Aline”), a lance, decent quality clothing and 25 silver coins.

Finally we can decide to give him some traits. Traits are things that he can roleplay, but that give him bonus Fame when he does (as he becomes famous for his traits). Being a sniveling coward is a trait that grants a lot of fame when it comes into play, whereas being afraid of wolves only provides a bit.

For Jean I’m going with a hate of wolves (25), foul-tongued (25 points – not suitable for conversations with nobles or children), and absolute loyalty to his employer or benefactor (150 points).

Jean Giraud
Occupation: Man at Arms

Fame: 500

Description: Late 20’s Gallish man-at-arms. Short but not stocky, Jean has a bristly black mustache that he has a hard time keeping in check and short black hair that seems perpetually spiked upwards with sweat. He has a scar on the right side of his neck that starts under his chin and goes down to his left nipple from a nearly fatal sword wound.

Brawn: 5
Presence: 2

Skills: Archery 2, Arms 3, Battle 1, Dexterity 1, Riding 1, Stealth 1

Equipment: Light armor (+1 combat), Axe (+1 combat), Riding horse (Marie-Aline), Lance, Decent quality clothing, 25 silver coins.

Traits: Hatred of wolves (25), Foul-tongued (25), Loyal to employer or benefactor (150).